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Kure Beach Approves Retirement Insurance Coverage For Fire Chief

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KURE BEACH - Kure Beach Fire Chief Harold Heglar requested confirmation from the Town Council at their August 15, meeting they would pay 100% of his health insurance upon retirement. He's been chief of the volunteer department for 37 years.
Mayor Dean Lambeth said he received a stipend up until 2002 and, "He has been promised by past Council's that his retirement would be covered. So what he is asking now is that 100% of his retirement insurance" be paid. That's about $381 per month.
Full time employees must work at least twenty years for the Town before being eligible for such benefits. Heglar was technically only full-time on the books for 10 years but said he was promised by former Council's he would still get that benefit upon retiring.
Council member Emilie Swearingen questioned whether the issue should be discussed in closed session saying, "Hate dragging you through the ringer in public session."
Town Attorney Andy Canoutas said the issue does not have to be discussed in closed session.
Councilman Chuck Keener asked if the Police Chief and Public Works director qualified for the same benefit.
Mayor Lambeth said, "They will."
Keener made a motion to approve Heglar's request.
Swearingen asked Canoutas, "Does this open up the way for all of our volunteer staff, fire department, police, whatever, to make the same request in the future...  or be approved. Do you consider this a one-shot thing and that's all?"
Canoutas said it would not precedent for other firemen and there are no other full time employees in Heglar's position.
He said, "Only if they become a permanent employee" and in other cases, only upon approval of the Town Council.
Mayor Lambeth said, "They will have the option of working their 20 or 30 years."
The Council voted unanimously to confirm Heglar's request for 100% paid health insurance following retirement.